“When once a man is launched on such an adventure as this, he must bid farewell to hopes and fears, otherwise death or deliverance will both come too late to save his honor and his reason.” – C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair
… this life is such an adventure.
Our hopes and fears are almost always based on a hypothetical future state. They exist in us because we speculate about what will be. They have a way of holding us in a passive position while we wait for their consummation in an imaginary death or deliverance… the kind of death or deliverance that arrives at your door. These may come late or they may not come at all, either way you’ll be waiting.
An important point that is easy to forget… this adventure is about your heart. It’s not the possibility of a future state that hangs in the balance, it’s the possibility of a future person. Death and deliverance don’t show up at your door. They come about inside of you… on the battlefield of your heart. So you see, if you sit with your hope or fear and wait for it to play out, you will lose your mind and possibly your honor, but you will definitely lose your heart. Deliverance and death hang on a decision that only you can make, and a decision is all it takes. You are the reason for hope and it is substance the moment you choose deliverance. The choice to lay hold of it is made by faith which is the substance of things hoped for. You are not a spectator here. Choose life… so that there might be life!
Do you feel that… that tension… as you try with all of your might to make your life fit into that little box you’ve been crouching in for all these years? Your world view is nice and tidy. You’ve finally gotten most of it worked out in your head and you’ve managed to stick fairly close to it. But it doesn’t fit. It won’t fit. Something in you knows that it could blow apart at any minute… the box, your life, all of it… and then what. Would that be the end of you?
You’ve got to let it out. I don’t know how, but you must find a way. God is big enough to deal with what happens next.
The experiences leading up to your glorious end, should you be so privileged, will all appear to have been aligned and building toward it. The experiences leading to your demise, if you are counted among the many, will all appear to have been pointing in that direction. So, greatness or destitution; it is a choice that you will make, and in the end it will seem to everyone else as if it were your destiny.
“Don’t know where we’re coming from or where we’re going to. Can I go all the way with you? ” – John Prine
Sexual undertones notwithstanding…
This is what life is all about, going all the way, with other people and with God. That is the whole question in life, will you go all the way. Will you go all the way with some of the people around you and will you go all the way with God? That is the question that you have to answer with your life.
Despite the ambiguity about our origins, despite the uncertainty about how this thing will end, despite the risks… will you go all the way? That’s the question. We stand there and ask permission. We stand there and wonder if we’re capable. But all it really takes is a choice, and the choice is yours.
“Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it” – Michelangelo
We were designed in the image of our creator to be creators. Our cursed state may have you thinking that we are expected to create something out of nothing. The futility and failure that we know all too well seems to confirm it, but that is not the deepest truth.
The truth is, our part is more discovery than it is invention. Our act of creation is primarily an act of seeking. When you are creating something you are actually on a quest. You are looking for something that wants to be found. You are hoping to unveil something that wants to emerge. We are guaranteed that this particular sort of activity doesn’t end in disappointment… those who seek find.
The risk that we perceive in the parable of the talents is perhaps not so great… with one huge exception, the risk associated with playing it safe. Pull enough curtains back and look under enough stones and you’re bound to find something worth sharing. The master’s anger is perhaps not so unjust. A failure to invest is a failure to release the wonder that is already there. Fear is our biggest enemy in this.
Creating is like digging for hidden treasure, and we are expected to be giving it a go while our master is away. The treasure is all around us.
“There comes a time in every rightly constructed boy’s life when he has a raging desire to go somewhere and dig for hidden treasure.” – Mark Twain
At some point in our lives every one of us comes to the realization that we live in a kind of dungeon. We awaken in a dark, damp, cold chamber feeling like we cannot bear to stay there for a moment longer. Over time we realize that there are a number of passageways leading out. We follow one, and then another, and another. We realize that these lead to other chambers, some more insufferable than the one we started in. More passageways, more chambers and it begins to dawn on you… the sinking feeling that these go on forever… that you cannot walk out.
We know deep down within us that there is a way out. Something deep within is familiar with the outside, as if we’ve seen it or been there in a dream. We know, somehow, that the way out exists on a higher plane, but we keep searching the passageways.
Let me save you some time. The way out involves the loss of your life… either by your choice or not… and it makes all the difference.
“I want to know Christ–yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” – Philippians 3:10
“Come baby, shake me, come baby, take me, I would be satisfied” – Bob Dylan
Is it a choice, to be satisfied, or is it just something we observe about ourselves? Zimmy seems convinced that if she will just shake him and take him that he will be satisfied. How does he know?
I want to say that you just have to be the sort of person who is easily satisfied and then you will be, but I don’t think that’s true. It’s not satisfaction you end up with that way. It’s numbness. You have to be the sort of person who wants something badly enough and then satisfaction becomes possible. In that way, the more unsatisfied you become, the better positioned you are for satisfaction. Tension and resolution… they are the key to most of the beauty in this world. Do you find yourself straining for anything? Is there anything that you’re really thirsty for?
The reason the bard knows he would be satisfied if the object of his desire would respond to his beckoning, is that he knows how badly he wants her… and I think he is right.
Your deepest desires, those internal tensions, are what make satisfaction possible. You can’t get by ignoring them. You will die a slow death. You have to seek the object of those desires.
“A man’s calling is written on his true heart, and he discovers it when he enters the frontier of his deep desires.” – John Eldredge
What do you want?
This feels like a question you’re not supposed to ask. Instead, you’re supposed to behave yourself. You’re supposed to handle your duties. You’re supposed to be responsible. You’re supposed to be productive. We’ve gotten pretty good at these things and let’s face it, they haven’t delivered. In the process we have lost touch with our hearts.
Do you want anything badly enough to go after it?
You have to figure out what you really want… no small feat.
“Resistance is always lying and always full of shit.” – Steven Pressfield
Regardless of your worldview or the religion you profess, you have probably noticed the fact that you face resistance. I think most people recognize and acknowledge this fact. There is conflict and difficulty in our endeavors. I may not be able to convince you that my view of where this resistance comes from is true, but that may not matter for now. I would like to expose the most basic tactic used by the resistance, wherever it may be coming from.
The resistance is bent on undermining your belief. It focuses almost all of its attention on attacking your faith. When I say faith I mean the notion that you could actually get what you long for and actually become who you were meant to be. It’s a real possibility. The moment you get the slightest inkling that it is possible… that you, the real you, could actually come to life and burst forth in all the glory you were created for, it shows up. The resistance shows up to steal that inkling. It has laid a lot of ground work in your life. It makes an air-tight case. It lays out the reasons and the evidence is clear…
… and then you’re back, back from your day dreaming, back from that crazy place.
That’s why they call it the good fight of faith. The vast majority of the people you meet have lost this battle. There are only a few who still think such a thing is possible. The crazy ones.
If you’re a fighter, fight to believe.
Most of the religious activity in this world is an attempt to satisfy our desire for a rational concept of reality. We long for something that makes sense of our lives and our world. It’s amazing what we’ll settle for. It’s amazing how tightly we’ll cling to it.
That’s the only reason science is a threat to some people’s faith.
The good news that Jesus of Nazareth brought didn’t speak to our thirst for answers. How could we even know the right questions? It was about being brought to life… being brought from a state of decay and death to a state of life. A way has been made for that to happen and it doesn’t come close to providing satisfaction to our rational minds. Can a two-year-old have any working understanding of where he/she is and where they are headed as they develop into an adult? Do they have any understanding of the role that their parents play in that process… the nurturing, the instruction, the direction, the discipline, the things they say? It has no rational meaning to the child. The child lives completely by faith. He/she is only aware of the desires within and the guidance from without… but they arrive if they embrace it. We are seeing today what happens when it is rejected… when a child presumes to know more about life than his or her parents… big problems.
I don’t know much about death and I don’t know much about life. All I know is that an offer has been made by someone who has displayed the utmost love and commitment. The offer doesn’t make a lot of sense to my rational mind, but it shouldn’t. I know within me that I want something more. The rational approach works if you want to become the spiritual version of a well-informed 2-year-old, but if you want life you’re going to have to walk by faith.